What does it mean that the customer is always right?
There’s an old saying in Tennessee. I know it’s in Texas, probably Tennessee, that says: “The customer…The customer is always right.” While this is always false, it is sometimes true. The customer is sometimes right. As designers, developers, managers and advisors, we sometimes start to think that we know and understand the customer’s vision better than they do. This can be helpful or incredibly harmful based on how you approach what the customer wants versus what the customer needs.
What do we think about this?
We’ve had experience working with clients on both sides of “the customer is always right.” Knowing that a customer is unclear in their vision often presents an opportunity to interject and recommend. We understand that these opportunities are not just opportunities to be right but a chance to respect the customer’s vision and goals. We work to make sure that the end product is the customer’s product and not ours. This product will fit their wants while supplementing their needs. There’s nothing like feeling that your baby was stolen or coopted. Bklyn works hard to take customer feedback, provide recommendations and more while keeping our eye on what the customer wants.
What has our experience with this been in the development environment?
We’ve had projects that resulted in great praise for our devotion to delivering a good product that fits our client’s needs. Why wouldn’t we? That’s our goal after all. We’ve also had projects where we were not as initially faithful to the customer’s wants as we should have been. In those situations, we always stepped back in order to understand our clients better, which allowed us to ultimately meet the customer’s expectations.
There are key signs that indicate that you are not on track to deliver something the customer wants. Our experience has shown that:
- When a customer begins to critique design changes or design abnormalities, you need to listen! Understand what they’re saying and adjust to meet their wants. Yeah, they should probably do it this way, but they want it that way. If “that way” doesn’t affect their needs, then go ahead and do it “that way.”
- If you don’t document specifics, then the customer will always be right. Always document communication with customer. Never speak informally and always confirm in a tangible format. Best practice is to confirm things in email
- Always confirm changes are up to the customer’s wants. Nothing is worse than implementing a change but not confirming it with the customer. You’re left with having to perform extra work at a later more critical time to adjust.
What do we look to do in the future?
In the future we will take even more steps to better meet the customer’s needs and wants. Steps like better documenting our communication with the customer, confirming decisions more directly and more to make sure that what we deliver is what the customer wants. In technology and development ego can sometimes get in the way of satisfying the customer. However, it is always necessary to make sure that no matter how many obstacles get in the way that you deliver what the customer wants. Nothing is worse than a customer who is not satisfied with their delivered project as it makes you seem uncaring, untrustworthy and unreliable. The customer shouldn’t always be right but when they are make sure it’s not because you think they’re always wrong.